Old Memories, New Fun at Restored Sixth Street Gym
Sixth. Street. Gym.
These three little words conjure up fond memories for anyone who has lived in Leadville, or visited for that matter. It has been a local gathering place for over 90 years! This historic building may be located at 124 East Sixth Street, but it’s just as much a part of Leadville’s heritage as some of the gems on historic Harrison Avenue.
For natives, there are memories of the roller skating rink, the swimming pool, and the Chamber of Commerce Grand Balls once held in the iconic building.
More recently, the gym has welcomed some of the world’s top athletes, as the Leadville Trail 100 has utilized the facility for pre-race inspiration and post-race accolades for over 30 years.
Today, Leadville’s youngest residents have learned gymnastics and archery in the old gym. And it’s still used by church groups for weddings, quinceañeras and Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations. And let’s not forget the annual Used Book Sale put on by the Friends of the Lake County Public Library or the annual Pumpkin Patch!
Yes, the Sixth Street Gym is a mainstay in Leadville. And now with recent improvements, it stands tall and proud with all its former glory.
Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that the Sixth Street Gym was described as a crumbling, unsafe facility with poor infrastructure. It’s use was becoming questionable and major repairs just weren’t in the county coffers at that time.
Fortunately, monies from the Colorado State Historical Fund put a new roof on it in 2008. That certainly kept the building from deteriorating any further.
Then in the winter of 2012, the terrible news of burst pipes actually turned lemons into lemonade when the insurance claim actually helped save the iconic sports hall.
According to Lake County Public Works Director Brad Palmer, when the pipes burst in the gym in Februray 2012, the floors and sub floor were completely wrecked.
“Once we peeled off the top floor and discovered that the sub-floor was also compromised, the floor was stripped down to the bones and re-built. While we had the floor off, we replaced all of the old pipes under the floor, so that we don’t have that problem again,” said Palmer in an interview with Leadville Today.
Now it’s been beautifully restored to its former squeaky sneaker glory. And because the State Historical Society was still in the driver’s seat when it came to any work being done on the building due to their roof funding, everything had to be done old-school original.
“The historical society required that when we took out a #2 Maple, we put back in a #2 Maple,” explained Palmer regarding the wood the floor was rebuilt with matching up with what was originally used when the gym was first constructed in the 1920s.
Included in other repairs with the remodel was the stack for the new boiler. A bigger boiler required a bigger stack which was eventually approved by the historical society and is now in place to efficiently heat the space.
Of course, anytime you’re excavating something in Leadville, some interesting artifacts are bound to show up.
“We found some interesting artifacts, including a 1928 newspaper, old bottles, some other cool stuff,” said Palmer.
The county is planning some kind of celebration, maybe this week, so stay tuned. The gym should be back open by early November, as local maintenance crews learn about how to care for this special floor and finish up other “punch list” items.
So sit tight for another week, the action will soon be in full swing at the Sixth Street Gym, ready for another 90 years!